PLAY DEAD: XXV ARTISTS ON DEATH & DYING
Curated by Willie Binnie & Tamara Coleman
Bows & Arrows May 2011 Dallas, TX
WISE AS SERPENTS
The Magickal Makings of Lizzy Wetzel
|MEET ME IN THE VISION GARDEN|
|all are welcome, all are one|
|A stranger left a love offering. Thank you stranger.|
|Cochineal bugs populate the Nopales|
|Maidenhair fern, wool, raw silk, graphite|
|An altar to the plant teachers|
|We are the Earth; sacred and profane. We are material and the things we make are made of the same elements that make us. The constellation of forces that shape who we are also falls upon our creations, determining what form they take, what purpose they serve, who will love them, and who will throw them away. Will they live long or be consumed by loneliness?|
In Trash Totems, the sacred becomes not a quality put on an object, nor a spell put on a person, but a special bond that exists between the two. This magick imbues an object with the divine, allowing it to channel the immaterial relationships that bind us to one another. These relationships become the things that Lizzy Wetzel is harnessing.
Wetzel’s practice is one of seeking out these sacred relationships and collecting the objects they are contained within. She speaks the language of the silent, showing us that these things will talk to those who listen. An orange peel, Joe Frank’s hair, a bone fragment - they all become her primary materials.
In these 13 sculptures, she combines these materials through an intricate alchemy to build new relationships from her old ones. Each element added creates a new facet. What was a love for only two becomes a triangle, then a hexagon, an octagon, and eventually, by including us all, becomes a circle. They are totems; monuments celebrating the life we have had together.
Gravity pulls the Earth's weight into itself, compressing all of its material into stone and flesh. Like the pressure upon an igneous rock, these forces push on us along with our refuse. We are of this earth! As we bury ourselves amongst our things, we rejoice in marvel, consumed by the world and transformed by its gravity.
-James Case Leal
LIZZY WETZEL: TRASH TOTEMS
Bows and Arrows, Dallas
March 27–April 20, 2010
Texas native Lizzy Wetzelʼs work is usually easily
recognized: bones, bees wax, glow-in-the-dark colors,
neon slick paint, intricate altars and carefully
choreographed rituals. Usually, the work has a function:
to cleanse, to protect, to explain, to proselytize.
In previous shows at Road Agent and Women and
Their Work, she created environments for performance,
whether public or not, in which the art served
as the prop for the action.
In her newest exhibition at Bows and Arrows, Wetzel
opts for private ritual over public ceremony. She
described this work as being more “honest, pathetic,
and true to life,” personifying the objects as “little
monsters.” This body of work started with two small
fragile table-top size sculptures from 2007, “The
Messiah” and “Mother of Pearl,” shown in Miami at
Aqua Hotel Art Fair. By spring 2008 Wetzel had
moved to New York City and found herself with the
luxury of having a studio, but none of the specialized
supplies that she had carefully procured at her
Shamrock Building studio in Dallas. So, she turned
to the most abundant resource at hand-–the trash of
New York. The first of the NY totems was a small
shrine to nature with a cut out picture of a Christmas
tree mounted on cardboard and a desiccated
orange peel set on a hunk of concrete, “Natural
This work is puzzling, vulnerable, and sincere.
Some of it is surprisingly stark, like “Shell/Shelter/
Shhh,” a piece of cardboard bent in an upsidedown
V attached to the wall aligned with a white
painted diamond shape. It is installed to fit just over
her head, as a personal shelter. My favorite is “Personal
Fetish,” a stick balanced horizontally on two
large gold-colored nails with a heavy cotton cord
tied in the center trailing downwards, then caught
up in intricate neon pink thread towards the bottom.
It is striking from a distance, simple, and eventually
complicated. There is something very satisfying and
intuitive about these two pieces. They feel like they
are part of a conversation the artist is having with
herself about her own practice of making objects.
Donʼt fear, Wetzel hasnʼt abandoned her trademark
neon slick paint; there is plenty of it in the show, and
feathers and bones. Bows and Arrows is an art
gallery/floral/craft shop at the intersection of multiple
creativities that value the skill of the hand and the
eye. Included in the show, installed with other shop
merchandise and props, are a line of accessories
by Wetzel under the label Snake Oil, including
leather talismans and bib necklaces along with
other eccentricities. Wetzel is choosing to blur the
lines between craft, commerce, and art with both
her choice of venue and her own production.